From One-Word Prayers to Conversations With the Father

Sitting in a classroom full of educators, I was the only one who taught in a Christian school. Studying school law, the topic in our small group turned to religious rights of students. One of the other teachers quietly asked me “Do you really pray in your classroom?” In a split second, about a thousand responses came to mind; “As long as there are children in my classroom, there will be prayer in my classroom; As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in school.” But what I think I settled on is this, “I would not know how to start the day without it.”

Teachers, parents, healthcare workers, human beings all make thousands of decisions every day. Making decisions is said to be one of the most stressful things in our lives. Some people are good at making decisions and others find it excruciating and debilitating. Here is was scripture says about it:   Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6

Last week I mused about “One Word Prayers.” Often that is all we can muster in the moment of immediate need. We are so blessed that God hears every one of those words that goes directly from our hearts to the heart of God. But how sad for us and for God if that is as far as our communication goes.

I have experienced, firsthand, how exciting it is when a child utters his or her first words, usually mama or dada. It is in recognition of the one who loves them and provides their every need. I have also walked beside parents whose children were not able to speak more than a handful of words. They rejoice in those few words, but it is heart wrenching to know that is all they will be able to speak. 

Like those parents, God desires to have full, deep and meaningful conversations with His children. God has begun the conversation with us and is waiting for our language development to blossom. Sometimes we just don’t know how to begin or what to say, but that is okay. Scripture says: And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.  Romans 8:26

Several years ago, I found myself suddenly with a lot of time on my hands. My children were grown and out of the house. My career that I had worked so hard for had come to an end. I felt dry, dusty, and used up. What was I going to do now? That still small voice whispered to me, “Talk to me.”  The only response I could have… In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3  

The one-word prayers that I had prayed so often became a lengthy catalogue of petitions mixed in with cries of my heart and gratitude for His provision and love. I committed myself to praying through this list several times every week. But that became overwhelming and I was not as engaged in the conversation as I should have been. Can you imagine how boring it would be if your child, friend, or spouse repeated the same conversation with you every day? And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Matthew 6:7 

I had to do something to not just babble a list of words. I needed to keep my conversation with God relevant and meaningful. I began to connect scripture with my prayers and the names of God with many entries on my list. Eventually, I broke my “list” into categories. Each of those categories has a day assigned. Over the next several posts, I will dive deeper into each of those categories and how I integrated that into my morning routine. Soon, you will be able to download a printable outline (check back here next week) like mine to use in your own prayer life. It is not a written prayer but will be a tool to help you enrich your conversations with God. 

Can you imagine having unlimited access to the President of the United States? What would you say if you could have only one hour with him? You have a direct line to the Creator of the universe who not only knows you by name but cares about your every need and desires to have ongoing dialog with you. Don’t waste another minute worrying. Talk to Him. 

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 

Next Week: The Who, What, When, Why, and How of Prayer &  Sacred, Surrendered, Silent Sundays

Published by Keri Willis

My name is Keri Willis. I am a semi-retired educator. I spent a great deal of my career working with adults with developmental disabilities and many years in elementary education, in the classroom and as an administrator. My main ministry now is coordinating the women’s ministry for our church in San Diego, CA. I have been married thirty-four years and have two grown and married children. I now have a head of full grey hair and good ideas. I believe we are created to use our gifts and to be creative. That comes in many forms for me. I love to woodwork and use power tools, design, decorate, garden, and create new recipes. And I love to write. One major lesson I have learned in my writing journey is that I need to be still and listen to hear God’s voice before I am prepared to put into words the message he has instilled in my heart. This has been much easier since I am no longer working full time, but it is so easy to get distracted and not listen, which almost always ends with an empty page in the form of writer’s block. While I have written many articles for newsletters and local newspapers, I did not consider myself a writer until I self-published my first book, Teapots and Power Tools. The idea emerged as I was working on a project in my garage. I had worship music playing, power tools out and saw dust flying. I glanced up and saw my delicate teapot sitting on my router table. The message was clear. Sometimes we are using the power tools God gives us and sometimes he just wants us to be still and have tea with him. The book became the foundation for a women’s retreat, and then my amazing niece helped me work through publishing it on Create Space (now KDP). At least five other projects are in different stages of production. I joined hope*writers to help motivate me and keep me focused and accountable. I am still trying to figure out the whole website and blog thing. That is my next goal for myself; that and finish writing at least one of my projects! Teapots and Power Tools: Effectively using the tools God has equipped you with, while taking time to “Be Still and Know That He is God”

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